I have to admit, Mathematics was my least favourite subject when I was a student. In primary school, I struggled with mastering basic concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication. Don’t even get me started on fractions! So, after always being the last in my class to finish a worksheet (if I did manage to finish it at all), I was sent to tutoring where I sat for a few hours in the afternoon working my way through booklets of sums.
While I was privileged enough to get the support I needed to “catch up” to my peers, those early experiences of failure really knocked my confidence for six. The work I was trying to master was not only challenging to eight-year-old me but delivered in such a dry and boring fashion that did little to help reduce my worries about “being good at Maths”.
On the other hand are the students who can complete those more traditional Maths worksheets in about 60 seconds flat! The students who need far more challenge and extension than is provided by a list of unanswered sums. While fast-finisher activities certainly have their place in the classroom, they can’t be considered adequate extension tasks for students who are unengaged by the lack of challenge they experience during regular tasks.
For students who are struggling with learning or who are unengaged by a lack of challenge, their experience of mastering Mathematics doesn’t need to be like this.
Investigations – Making Mathematics Fun
Mathematics investigations open students’ minds to the possibility of multiple approaches, multiple outcomes and multiple solutions. When linked to the world in which they live, open-ended investigations can help students see the relevance of mathematics within their lives. They also provide wonderful opportunities for differentiation, enabling students to feel confident and successful as they engage with tasks at their own individual level.
What is an “Investigation”?
An investigation is a lesson or a series of lessons that are built around a specific situation, context or theme. Mathematics investigations require students to use mathematical concepts in order to complete a series of tasks connected to the context.
This video illustrates this teaching strategy using our Make Me a Radical Robot – 3D Object Mathematics Investigation as an example.
Lower & Middle Years Primary
Upper Years Primary
Have your students worked through any of these Mathematics investigations?
Or do you have an idea for one you know your kids would love?
Let us know in the comments below!